Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts is now streaming on HBO Max.
By Elazar Abrahams
I didn’t realize I was old enough to have nostalgia. I’m in my senior year of college, turning 22 in eight days. And yet, watching the new Harry Potter reunion special, a wave of emotion overtook me several times throughout.
So many memories came flooding back. Potter is a franchise I haven’t thought about in years. I was 11 when the final movie came out, I vividly remembering seeing the last three in the series in theaters. But since then, the Cursed Child continuation was a letdown and the Fantastic Beasts films have put me to sleep, so I’ve fallen out of touch with the wizarding world. Seeing the cast unite – especially the main trio of Radcliff, Grint, and Watson – really reminding me just how much loved this franchise. It was such a joy reliving some of that. Watching replays of the little things too, are what mattered, like the Hogwarts express, or Voldemort’s raspy delivery of “the boy who lived… come to die.”
The format of the special was really well done. Going through the movies chronologically was smart, and just letting the cast and directors sit and talk to each other in the room was a breath of fresh air. (Yes, that is a subtle dig at James Corden in the Friends reunion last year.) What I found most interesting was the handoff between directors. Chris Columbus headed the first two movies, but then dipped and a bunch of other directors followed. Hearing the differences in their filmmaking approach and the vibe they created on set was super cool.
Oh, if they were to make another movie with this cast! It would shatter the box office. If you thought Spider-Man: No Way Home was a big deal, this would blow it out of the water. This reunion made me hopeful that that just might happen someday.
The story of Harry Potter will always be foundational to who I am. Before I went through my Star Wars phase, before the MCU, it was Harry, Ron, and Hermione. It was the Marauders’ Map. It was chocolate frogs and every-flavor jellybeans. It was potions class and defense against the dark arts. It was the countless spells and creatures. It’s so interesting how things that were once so important to us can become vague memories. The highest compliment I can give this hour and 40 minute special is that it brought me back to the days of playing pretend wand battles with my friends during recess. There is a Harry Potter rewatch in my near future, that’s for sure.